Credit: Nick Shepherd

Where does the word 'recession' come from?

WORDS-WORTH: It's a term we hear used about a country's economic ills - quite apt since it has a medical origin.

by John Morrish
Last Updated: 16 Jun 2016

There's a recession in Japan. 'Recession' is the sign of a sick economy, which is appropriate, since the word was originally a medical term. Of Latin origin, it was used from the 17th century for all manner of medical remissions, diminutions and declines: indeed, it still is. You might experience a 'recession of symptoms', for instance. It has also been used in astronomy, geography, dentistry, phonetics, religion and others. Only in the mid-19th century did it take on its chief modern meaning, in economics, and it was not until half a century later that it began being used about whole countries. Get well soon, Japan.

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